Every software product eventually nears end-of-life, no matter how innovative they once were. In order to keep a competitive edge in an increasingly agile marketplace, companies need to undertake large scale deployment of new software. And they need to do so with maximum buy-in from stakeholders and minimum disruption to business-as-usual. For over 20 years, Salesforce Classic has dominated the industry. It was one of the first cloud-powered applications but it’s being replaced as companies choose to switch to Salesforce Lightning.

Anyone using the Classic version of Salesforce, and crucially, anyone using Veeva CRM, will need to migrate across to the Lightning interface and retrain end users.

If you’re a user of Veeva CRM, you may not have realised the implications for your business. Veeva, like many companies used Salesforce as the foundation upon which to build their system. Which means that Salesforce is embedded in the very DNA of the Veeva CRM. The slow obsolescence of Classic will impact Veeva users.

Why switch now?

You may be happily hooked on Salesforce Classic as your CRM. But beware this statement on the Salesforce website:

“Lightning Experience includes many new features and entirely redesigned pages, but not every Salesforce feature is supported in Lightning Experience.”  18 Nov 2019

Salesforce will continue to support Classic for the moment, but the list of ‘only-in-Lightning’ features grows longer with every release. Only 1 in 20 updates and new features released are available in Classic.

Eventually, the unsupported, increasingly undervalued, Classic will slip away. It makes sense to prioritise a smooth transition to Lightning in your 2021 activity plan – if you haven’t already done so.

What makes Lightning a gamechanger?

According to the Salesforce website the Lightning interface will enable you to: “Build amazing apps. Create custom actions. Dream up new partner apps. Set new app development speed records 43% faster. Sales forces can shave 10 hours a week off current work times, so selling fast comes naturally on Lightning.”

Behind the breathless sales pitch, Lightning does have much faster functionality, more flexibility to ‘make it your own,’ and it just looks more user-friendly with far less text on screen and a more contemporary user interface. By comparison, Classic looks and feels last century.

But compare this statement:

“People are off-the-charts excited about Lightning: the look and feel and how it functions. It saves reps hours.” Bob Bird senior manager sales force operations at T-Mobile

With this:

“Needs a lot of training to understand and scale it within an organisation.” Trustpilot end user review

One end user compared Lightning to being like static electricity, causing nothing but friction. A significant amount of user feedback suggests that it would have been beneficial to have some outside help with the implementation rather than trying to navigate it themselves.

Is it too late to make a smooth transition to Lightning?

The earlier a robust change management strategy is planned and put into effect, the less risk to your productivity, staff morale and overall profitability. Change management controls the risk to both business and employees at pivotal moments of change. A smooth transition to Salesforce Lightning translates to greater reward for all stakeholders at all levels. We believe it’s never too late to manage change.

Since it’s not a ‘hard Brexit’ switch off, you can set your own ‘go-live’ date and back it up with a robust change management plan. Build in plenty of lead time to audit your existing system (the phase where you decide what to keep and what to ditch when you switch) and plan your migration step by step.

How to prepare for a smooth switchover

“From an end-user perspective, Lightning will undoubtedly be better, but it is a significant change for end users. Our experience with clients over the last 6 months has underlined the need for change management as well as user training.” Dale Peters, Managing Director Bright Affect

Relay runners rehearse the baton ‘hand-off” moment as much as they train for the run itself. Similarly, you need to ensure that the moment of ‘software switchover’ from one system to another is planned, rehearsed and executed as well as possible. Bringing Bright Affect change managers on board – at any stage of your Lightning migration – will help you to assess where your company is culturally and how to get the right training in place.

In order to successfully equip and empower your end users, you need a robust, four-part change management plan:

– A comprehensive project schedule that budgets time, resources and crucially, puts training at its heart

– A well thought-through training plan that begins weeks before switchover and lasts until every user is 101% confident. Don’t remove the old system safety net too soon

– A consistent communications strategy. Every user and their managers need to buy into the benefits, not just be bombarded with ‘management hype’ about how great it will be

– A positive feed of information to get a bit of a buzz going – Lightning is a step change and a step up. Get everyone excited about the benefits to staff at all levels.

Why is training often the last thing on the schedule?

Training the sales team and other end users is often scheduled last in a project migration plan. The IT development team – who often lead on software migrations internally –can put functionality of the new software first and training end users last. Like putting someone who can’t drive in the driving seat of a high-performance car.

Training can be the most undervalued yet powerful tool in the change management lifecycle. It’s at the heart of our business and should be at the heart of any change management project. Upcoming blogs in our Lightning series in December will dig deeper into what makes effective training.

It’s not over after switchover!

After any significant software migration, you need to keep evaluating, educating and re-educating until everyone is confident and competent, ideally aiming for 100% adoption. This can take months, or even years. Salesforce releases upgrades three times a year so there is an ongoing need for training – it’s not a ‘one-and-done’ exercise.

Manage the transition and you mitigate the risk

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.” John F. Kennedy

Planning and implementing the deployment of a new software system is daunting. As change management experts, the Bright Affect team has advised many companies on achieving effective, efficient transitions. Look out for our other news articles in December on managing change and choosing the right training.

This is one Lightning strike that you can predict. And together we can manage.